These vegan rice paper rolls (aka Vietnamese fresh spring rolls or summer rolls) are fresh, light, healthy, and so easy to make! They're packed with raw, crunchy vegetables & vermicelli noodles and served alongside a creamy spicy peanut sauce. They're perfect as a light lunch, weeknight dinner or as a hand-held appetizer!
All I want this time of year is fresh meals that require no cooking at all and these rolls check those boxes. It's truly too hot for anything else!
This recipe is also commonly referred to as fresh spring rolls, summer rolls, salad rolls or, authentically, Vietnamese gỏi cuốn. They are filled with crisp, fresh veggies like purple cabbage, creamy avocado, vermicelli noodles, and more. The best thing about these rolls are that they're super customizable so they never have to be the same!
I would like to quickly note that this is not an authentic Vietnamese summer roll recipe, as I'm not Vietnamese. This is simply Vietnamese-inspired and my take on this dish after enjoying it numerous times at local restaurants. For an authentic recipe, check out Uyen Luu's video!
These rice paper rolls are super fresh, naturally vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, low calorie, and are made without tofu.
Why you'll love this recipe
This is definitely my favorite way to eat the rainbow! This recipe is:
- Quick to prepare and easily customizable! You can follow this recipe to a T or look at my list of suggested fruits and vegetables in the substitutions/variations section. It's also a great way to use up whatever produce you have lying around the house before it goes bad.
- Healthy and nutritionally balanced with healthy fats, protein, fiber, and a selection of vitamins/minerals. Even though they're jam packed with delicious ingredients, they're still low calorie.
- A light yet super satisfying snack or meal that is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
- Quite budget-friendly, as that veggies and noodles are some of the cheapest groceries you buy.
Rice Paper Sheets: these can also be labeled 'spring roll wrappers' so don't be alarmed if you see them marketed that way. Rice paper is thin, translucent wrappers that are traditionally made from rice flour, water and salt. They're naturally gluten-free. They start as a dried, firm sheets but once they are wet with water, they become soft and flexible so you can easily wrap them around fillings to create delicious our rice paper rolls! Generally, you can find rice paper wrappers at a variety of locations:
- Major grocery stores (usually in the international aisle!)
- Health food stores
- Asian grocers & markets
I used 9-inch rice paper sheets. You can use any size, it'll of course just result in larger or smaller rolls.
Vermicelli Noodles (rice sticks): are typically used in this dish! We'll be using them here to make these a bit more filling and satisfying. These keep the rolls gluten-free, as they're made from rice flour. You can also use purple sweet potato noodles or cellophane noodles (aka glass noodles). Any of these options will provide a bit of heartiness!
Fresh Veggies: I used butterhead lettuce (this helps prevent the other veggies from tearing the rice paper wrappers), shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, and cucumber sticks! You can sub in/out any veggies you'd like. Bell peppers, mangoes, mushrooms and radishes are also great in these.
Avocado: to add a creamy texture as well as a healthy fat!
Edamame: I wanted to make sure we had a good source of plant based protein! Since these summer rolls are made without tofu, I thought edamame would be the perfect replacement. If you need these to be soy-free, feel free to leave them out.
Herbs: herbs really add to the freshness of these rolls. You can use cilantro, mint, or basil. I opted for cilantro, but I know some of you think it tastes like soap LOL so feel free to use whichever herb you prefer.
Spicy Peanut Sauce: this sauce is made with mostly pantry staples and only calls for 5 ingredients: peanut butter, tamari, sweet thai chili sauce, garlic, and lemon juice. You can use soy sauce, but be aware that would not keep this recipe gluten-free.
They're super easy to make but if it's your first time making these, it can be a bit tricky! Be careful, follow these tips and take your time to avoid ripping the rice paper wrapper. If you rip the first few, don't worry about it, me too! Remember this: dip, assemble, roll, repeat!
How to make the rice paper rolls
If you've never worked with rice paper before, it can be a little tricky, but don't worry, I'm here to help! I recommend prepping the noodles and veggies before you're ready to rock & roll (pun intended).
First, cook vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. After draining, allow to cool. Feel free to throw them in the fridge so they cool faster - this makes the noodles easier to work with.
While the noodles are cooling, prepare the rest of your fillings. Finely chop, slice, shred, or spiralize the veggies. Feel free to pick up already shredded/sliced veggies from the grocery store to save some time!
To prepare the rice paper, fill a large bowl with cool or room temperature tap water. Quickly dip 1 rice paper wrapper into the bowl for 2-3 seconds so that the entire sheet gets wet but the rice paper is still stiff/bendy. There's no need to wait for the sheet to soften in the water. Do not worry that the rice paper isn't completely soft/pliable yet, it will continue to rehydrate as it sits, I promise. If your bowl isn't large enough to dip the entire sheet at once, rotate the sheet quickly until so every inch of the rice paper has been touched by water. Shake off any excess water then place the wrapper onto a flat, dry surface like your counter, a cutting board and/or a dish towel.
Start placing the fillings on the bottom ⅓ of the rice paper, leaving 1-2 inches of space on the sides. Place down layer of butterhead lettuce first, then top it with vermicelli noodles, red cabbage, carrot and cucumber sticks, avocado slices, and finishing with the cilantro.
To roll the wraps, think of it like an envelope: gently fold over the right and left sides first, then take the bottom end of the rice paper gently pull it over the ingredients. Once you fold that over, you can start to tuck in any of the filling that's coming loose and then continue roll it upward, away from your body until sealed, leaving the seam side down!
Repeat this process until you've used up all of the rice paper and all of the filling. You can slice each roll in half or leave them as is.
If you're still not feeling too confident on how to roll the rice paper rolls, check out this video!
How to make the spicy peanut sauce
Simply whisk together the peanut butter, tamari or soy sauce, sweet thai chili sauce, garlic, and lemon juice. Immediately serve alongside your fresh spring rolls as a dipping sauce and enjoy!
Variations & Substitutions
- Switch up your protein source by using tofu, tempeh, or crispy chickpeas instead of edamame. You can also add extra protein with the addition of seeds or nuts like hemp seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, peanuts, or cashews.
- Swap out the filling ingredients! Like I said, these salad rolls are super customizable so you can use whatever fruits, veggies or herbs you like. Sliced red bell pepper, mushrooms, mangoes, mint, or basil would be wonderful in these! You can even turn these into spicy summer rolls by adding sliced jalapeños.
- Turn these into fried vegan spring rolls by baking, deep frying, or air frying them for that crispy exterior! To bake or air fry, preheat the oven to 400F and place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through; air fry for 10 minutes. You can deep fry these spring rolls in vegetable oil until golden. Put the rolls in when the oil is HOT (~350 degrees F)! They should only take 2-3 minutes to fry.
- For the spicy peanut sauce, swap out the peanut butter with almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or any nut/seed butter you prefer. I also saw chickpea butter at Whole Foods the other day, which could be a great option if you're allergic to nuts and/or seeds.
- To make these lighter, feel free to leave out the vermicelli noodles and pack in some more veggies.
- Instead of using rice paper, feel free to wrap your fillings in swiss chard for an extra dose of veggies.
QUICKLY DIP your rice paper in water. You do not (and should not) need leave the rice paper soaking in the water bowl for 15+ seconds/until it's fully softened like many other recipes (and even sometimes the rice paper packaging) recommend, as this will make the rice paper very sticky, gummy, very fragile/prone to tears and seriously hard to work with. Also, only dip one wrapper at time, only dipping when you are ready to assemble and roll.
Use cool or room temperature water. Using cool or room temperature water keeps them from getting too sticky. Hot water (like often recommended) will lead to fragile and sticky wrappers.
If your rice paper is sticking to your surface, either lightly wet the surface or place a lightly dampened dish towel down on your surface and roll the spring rolls on there.
Don't overfill your rolls as this can cause your wrappers to tear! It may take a few tries to figure out the proper filling ratio, but once you've figured it out, you'll avoid tearing the rolls.
Watch out for pointy veggies! Shredded carrots ripped a few of my wrappers so take notice of any veggies that are pointing upwards/toward the wrapper. Just gently push them down or into the other veggies. Placing down the lettuce first can act as a protective barrier.
If you're still having trouble with the wrappers tearing, make two filling sections instead of stacking all of the fillings into one mound. For clarity, arrange half of the filling in the center of the wrapper and the other half below it.
Remember, whatever your place down first (at the bottom) will be visible on the top once they rice paper rolls are rolled up.
While these rice paper rolls are best served fresh, if you do have leftovers this is how I recommend storing them:
Refrigerator: Store the rolls and spicy peanut sauce in separate air-tight containers. For maximum freshness, refrigerate within an hour of rolling and then wrap the leftover rolls in a clean, damp kitchen or paper towel to prevent them from drying out and sticking to one another. The rice paper rolls will stay fresh for up to 3-5 days while the peanut sauce will stay fresh for up to 1 week, making these a great option for meal prep.
Freezer: Unfortunately, fresh rice paper rolls do not freeze well, so I wouldn't recommend storing them in the freezer. If you chose to cook (by baking or frying) the rolls, once cooled they can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Yes, they're a delicious, healthy & nutritious option! The fact that these are fresh, not fried. Even though they don't require any cooking, they're still super crisp, crunchy, and fresh. They also encourage you to eat the rainbow. They contain a colorful range of vegetables, meaning you'll be eating a variety of nutrients. Plus, they're high in fiber, plant-based protein, and healthy fats.
Yes! You can do one of two things. You can either prepare the various fillings 1-2 days in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Then you can just quickly assemble the rolls the night before. OR you can completely prepare the spring rolls as outlined in this post and store them in an airtight container with a dampened paper towel laid over top.
You most likely have over-soaked the rice paper. I recommend only quickly dipping (seriously, 2-3 seconds) the rice papers, they will continue to rehydrate while on your surface and placing the fillings.
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If you make these vegan fresh rice paper rolls, be sure to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram. If you have any questions or feedback at all, send me an e-mail or leave a comment below! I hope you love this dish as much as we do!Print